Is “Pretty” good enough?  How “Gritty” does it need to be?  These questions are what artists might ask themselves as they set out to create.

watercolor flower bouquet, still life,
Bouquet in Spring


Yes, Its a pretty spring flower painting.  But….


Pretty Picture


Merely surface pretty can be just plain vapid.   Leaving one hungry for more within a few minutes. Anxious to hurry up and move on to the “next.”

Prettiness does not necessarily always fill the well.


watercolor flower techniques, easy beginners watercolors, debi riley art
Soft Garden Blooms


If we’re lucky,  it will also have depth and substance. Thats when I know I have succeeded.


versions of grey, oil painting,
Grey Interpretations





black and white photography, sky clouds, contemplations,
dove released





versions of grey, mixing grey paint,
Inflections Blue Greys


On the other side: Gritty.

Unrelieved Stark, Raw emotion can be too painfully confronting and overwhelming, if its in excess.

If it is right in your face with no let up. There is Just Too much tension. We want to run for the hills!


The artist must balance the two (pretty and gritty)   on the fine edge of the highwire.

on the edge
On the Edge




Sometimes when I use the camera to create, I will try to evoke a quieter and reflective mood. But it is with the intent of contemplation.

I aim to draw the viewer in, to stir their imaginations and thoughts.

By camera or by brush.

creating mood, photos and art,
Reflecting in Darwin



I try to integrate and infuse my images with something beyond the surface of the subject.


To interject in between  these layers a deeper meaning and context, that hopefully the viewers will sense.

I aim to reveal from behind the veil, a vulnerability.

A sensitivity that surface pretty will not show.


I’m not always successful, but,  that is nearly always my creative goal.


Blue veil gouache and watercolor,
The Blue Veil

If I’ve been successful in my objectives,  then  my image is both  pleasing and has some grit.


rough bark photograph, canon eos, debi riley art, art basics
Rough Start, Getting Softer in The Back



Good, Enough

Now, to return to a phrase that really isn’t in my teaching vocabulary, nor in my practice vocabulary either.


“Good Enough.”

I don’t  use that term.


I use the terms:  “Does it meet my criteria,objectives?” ,

“Is it a step in the right direction, does it take me closer to where I’d like to go?”

These are positive and encouraging.



“Good Enough,”  has a ring of negativity that infers,  it will Never ever be Good Enough.

There will always be a flaw.

I choose optimism and positive reinforcement for my artistic self.





Definitely,  there are days I will choose Pretty Art  over Gritty Art.

Because that is what I need, on  that day.

But overall, I know that to improve my art,  I need to focus on creating art that has some grit to it along with the pretty.